Saturday, May 31, 2008

Another journalist laments what he should have said

But should Harry Smith really have voiced his opinions about the war? Read this and tell me what you think.

He's correct

Much of what passes for "news" on the cable networks today is really educated opinion and speculation.

What she meant to say was...

...not what she said the first time. A CNN reporter backtracks/restates her thoughts about corporate executives interfering with coverage of the Iraq War.

Friday, May 30, 2008

A news channel targetting a black audience

A respected former African-American politician is heading up the effort.

Here we go again

Another reporter being asked to testify about his sources. More evidence that we need a federal shield law.

Add another voice to those in favor of...

...ditching the SAT/ACT test requirements for university admission.

Lieberman to speak...

...at an event hosted by a pastor Sen. John McCain has abandoned.

Was that argument that the media were favoring Obama but criticizing Clinton merely a myth?

One study by a leading journalism organization suggests the answer is...yes.

Scott McClellan...the fallout continues

The former White House press secretary remains very public in his criticism of the president (and, yes, by doing so in promoting his book).

The analysis of Mr. McClellan has taken at least one interesting turn, once you set aside the now typical claims of betrayal.

The Wall Street Journal argues that the media's insatiable appetite for this story is an indicator that they have given up any interest in the Democratic presidential race. (The editorial also bashes the book's publishing house for its ties to liberals and Democrats.

Closely related to this, the Los Angeles Times believes that Sen. John McCain must weigh in on the charges presented by McClellan.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

An interesting ethical question

Did Howard Kurtz overstep ethical lines in interviewing a network reporter...knowing that his wife was part of the group promoting the reporter's book?

At first glance, I'm answering "yes" to that question.

A Sri Lankan journalist is brutally attacked and killed

The details are a bit gory. The investigation into the killing continues.

ABC wants to keep Charles Gibson right where he is

And the network is prepared to make the financial commitment to seeing that that happens.

Kind of sad that ABC and NBC continue to have strong leadership when it comes to committing to the future of its top news anchor. CBS might want to show up for class and learn that important point.

He's taking the heat...and firing back (UPDATED)

Former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan is taking hits from the White House, his former boss and others within the Republican Party. But so far he's standing up to the heat. He maintains his new book and his criticisms within of the Bush administration are valid.

UPDATE: And as you consider McClellan's claims, also consider those being made by a network news reporter -- who says that corporate executives were pushing network journalists to produce stories that included a slanted version of events about Iraq.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Obama-Dodd and McCain-Lieberman (UPDATED)

One columnist in Pittsburgh, who is no stranger to diplomacy and international relations, suggests that the Democratic and Republican presidential tickets will include both Connecticut senators.

I'm especially skeptical of the proposed Democratic ticket, and I doubt Mr. McCain would select someone who ran as a vice presidential nominee in 2000 (and obviously lost). Sen. Dodd would blunt the "not enough experience" argument that is being hurled at Sen. Obama, but others -- such as Michigan's Carl Levin and New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson -- also can do that. And they, in my opinion, would bring more to the Democratic ticket. Levin, for example, would make Michigan a solidly "toss-up" state. Richardson is a popular governor in a state that was narrowly won by President Bush in 2004.

The proposed McCain-Lieberman ticket makes more sense to me (in comparison to Obama-Dodd) because McCain appears to appreciate surrounding himself with people he likes. My sense is that he and Sen. Lieberman genuinely like each other (and needless to say each has been comfortable rocking the boat in the past). However, Lieberman does nothing to placate the conservative base of the Republican Party. And, as mentioned, he has been a runningmate before. I wonder if Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander or South Carolina's Lindsey Graham would be better selections. Their credentials might not be conservative enough, in some eyes, but they are from the South, which McCain needs to win handily on Nov. 4.

In playing this "what if?" game, I confess I'm doing something I dislike media organizations doing -- passing off speculation as news. So to help ease my angst, I'm not going to consider this post "speculation." No, instead, I'm going to consider it an example of an "educated guess." You bet, I feel better already :-)

UPDATE: Late Wednesday posting. Lieberman will give a strong signal about his interest in and chances of becoming McCain's nominee by choosing whether to attend an event sponsored by a religious figure McCain recently distanced himself from.

America's three evening news anchors come together...

...for a special one-hour program on battling cancer.

My question: Are we inadvertently opening a Pandora's box here? My point is this -- if the dangers of cancer are worth uniting Katie Couric, Charles Gibson and Brian Williams, then are the dangers of AIDS, heart disease, smoking, or other ailments also worth a concerted television effort?

Please don't misinterpret what I'm saying -- I'm NOT criticizing what the networks are doing. But I am asking if they are obligated to stop only at cancer. If you think the answer is yes, tell me why. If you think the answer is no, then what?

A citizen media summit

Believe me, if I could afford it...I'd be attending this conference. I would be very interested to hear a myriad of perspectives on the role individual/citizen voices play in the global media environment.

Press freedom around the world

An interesting series of reports by Deutsche Welle...indicating that "freedom of the press" is wishful thinking (or under threat) in many parts of the world.

How fair have the media been to Hillary Clinton?

"Fair" is a difficult word to define. I equate it to "normal." Nevertheless, here's an interesting NPR report that suggests the language sometimes used to describe Mrs. Clinton would not be considered appropriate, if applied to a man. So why has it seemingly become acceptable to apply the terms to her?

A thaw in Russia's relations with the media?

We can hope. Make no mistake, though, the situation under which media operate needs to improve.

Phoenix and Mars Mission

NASA engineers continue to deliver a positive message about the latest mission to Mars. The next public briefing is at 2:00 ET, and it can be accessed live from the NASA Web site.

The orders from NASA today -- Hey, Phoenix...spread those arms!

The first signs of a political backlash?

Parents who have lost their children due to the Chinese earthquake are asking why their sons' and daughters' schools were so poorly constructed.

This story will be interesting to follow -- both in terms of how the government responds to it, but also to see how Western and state-run Chinese media cover (or ignore) it. Domestic media in China have been revealing many pictures and stories of grief and of an active political structure seeking to do all it can for its people. But what happens when the images of grief turn to hard questions about the authorities?

A sophisticated "political propaganda campaign" (UPDATED)

Well now, isn't that an interesting way to describe how the Bush administration prepared the country for war in Iraq. Who's making the claim? The man who once was the administration's voice to the media and the public.

UPDATE: And how should the media react to this "news"? Here's one suggestion.

Sure, it's hard work...

...but doing investigative journalism can be rewarding.

I'll confess, I never had the gumption to undertake this kind of journalism. I have a tremendous amount of respect for those who do it.

Is MSNBC becoming for the liberals...

...what FOX is perceived as being for the conservatives? And if the answer is "yes," then why are so many people on BOTH sides of the political aisle upset?

There is another way of looking at this -- if you had to choose only one cable news network to watch, then which would you pick: CNN, FOX or MSNBC? My point is that the programming "strategy" (deliberate or otherwise) might be an attempt to pander to ratings. Of course, no news agency ever does that. Never.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Why, you ask, do I dislike the SAT and ACT?

The blunt answer is that I'm never confident with a one-time, one-day test being an adequate gauge of how well a student will perform in a college classroom. In fact, the Wake Forest University provost used that argument to, in part, justify the school's choice to no longer require either the SAT or ACT as part of an admissions portfolio.

It would appear logical, and at least one report demonstrates, that a student's performance over a four-year high school career can provide a better measure of potential academic success than an approximate four-hour exam.

It's a trite comparison I'll admit, but when journalists prepare those "best of all-time" lists, they don't evaluate an individual on a single night performance. Instead, "the body of work" over a career distinguishes what makes someone great. Sure, we might remember the one-time, super effort (maybe the New York Giants in the 2008 Super Bowl?), but the elite teams (1980s Edmonton Oilers, 1980s San Francisco 49ers, 1990s Dallas Cowboys) are labeled such because they found a way to be great multiple times against multiple teams and in multiple situations.

Again, the comparison to sports might be flawed, but I think you'd agree that the larger body of work better reflects the capabilities of Student X than his/her efforts on a standardized test.

In addition, these standardized tests seem to erode a university's ability to attract the diverse student body that makes a university campus vibrant. Of course, SAT officials are quick to claim that the test is "fair."

However, more than 750 schools, according to one non-profit organization, have done away with the standardized test requirement.

To learn more about this topic, I encourage you to do what I am planning -- pick up a copy of the 2007 book "The Power of Privilege: Yale and America's Elite Colleges". It makes a persuasive argument that the tests have not ensured that the best students make it into the best schools.

"Wake" up...it's time for more schools to consider...

...dumping the SAT or ACT as a required element of an admissions packet. Kudos to Wake Forest University for taking this important step.

China -- the growing natural disaster

Aftershocks and fears of flooding continue to ravage central China, site of last week's terrible earthquake.

The latest information from state-run media is grim -- powerful aftershocks today killed at least 60 people and destroyed more than 400,000 homes. Pause for a moment and consider those numbers.

One piece of (perhaps) good news -- the enthusiasm for the Olympics has not been soured. One ticket company executive says that every ticket for every Olympic event will be sold. Hyperbole? Probably.

Mars mission -- going well

Be sure to regularly check out the dedicated Phoenix site from the NASA homepage. Lots of cool information pertaining to the mission to Mars. And cool describes the pictures, as well.

Why are crime/investigative reporters having a hard time these days?

The answer might surprise you.

Phoenix at work

My two boys appeared more interested in the Kids Club site on the NASA homepage than in looking at the pictures from Mars. Oh, well.

For those of us who are enjoying the Phoenix mission...here's an update.

Would you like to ask President Bush a question?

So would this guy. Neither he nor you should hold your breath.

A huge lawsuit...and why you should care

If it involves one of the more popular Web sites...it's news. This story is of interest whether you are a serious news follower, an educator, or anyone who cares about the media.

Virginia Commonwealth and Big Tobacco

The secret is out...now the general consensus is that this was a partnership that should have gone up in smoke -- before it ever started.

The war continues...the media coverage declines

Battle fatigue? Economic reality? Presidential elections?

Toss around any reason you want...but the undeniable fact is that there is less coverage of America's war efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Forget "rising from the ashes like a Phoenix"...

...when it comes to the mission to Mars, it's Phoenix checking out the ashes, the dust and everything else. The first pictures are in...and they look pretty cool. Be sure when you are on the NASA site to go to the NASA-TV link, where you will find periodic media conferences and other information.

Friday, May 23, 2008

What's next for Condoleezza Rice?

Palo Alto would be nice, she says.

A special night for my Cub Scouts

Tonight my Cub Scout pack will join with several local Cub, Boy and Girl Scout groups at our local cemetery. There, they will lay flags at the gravesites of U.S. veterans.

This is an annual event, and until earlier today I think I had forgotten just how important it is. My older son (the Cub Scout) asked me the following question: "Dad, is the flag ceremony the most important event each year for Cub Scouts?"

I admit, he stumped me. At first blush, the answer appears simple: Yes. But so many of the activities I do with my Scouts are designed to help them appreciate, recognize and respect the past. I'm never quite sure how well I succeed in this endeavor, but that's not the point. The point is that I try to incorporate several "most important" elements into the year. With that in mind, tonight's events become one of those.

Yet, tonight is different. The Scouts are removed from our typical meeting place, and they do something as a group to show respect for the men and women who served our country. So just maybe the answer to my son's question should have been obvious all along -- yes, it is.

Uh, oh...here we go again (UPDATED)

Another week -- another series of media merger rumors. But this one seems particularly gigantic: Time Warner and NBC Universal. How big can big media get???


UPDATE -- How big? For one media company, apparently not as big as it once was. But I'm also reminded of Sean Connery promising never to be James Bond...and then he came back for one more go around. Remember the title of the movie: Never Say Never, Again. How poignant.

Virginia Commonwealth and Big Tobacco

The reactions are beginning to flow in...here's one.

Shorter classes mean better learning?

ONe study suggests the answer might be yes.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Will it be McCain-Crist...McCain-Jindal...McCain-Romney... (UPDATED)

...or none of the above? We won't learn that answer this weekend, but you know the speculation game will be in high gear.

UPDATED: Here's just one example of the speculation.

Bad weather in Colorado -- caught on tape

Great video from Colorado, where a freak tornado struck today.

Shhh! This is a secret. No one is supposed to know.

Yeah, right.

The incredibly vanishing...newsroom?

Sounds odd...but the increasing use of lighter, user-friendly, and cheaper technology is allowing many journalists to spend almost no time in the office.

Who are the 100 best student journalists in the country?

And why is the list promoting such controversy? Perhaps not for the reasons you might think.

Here is the complete U-Wire story.

Virginia Commonwealth University...

...plus big tobacco equals an interesting series of ethical issues.

What is next for Hillary Rodham Clinton?

Anyone who thinks that she will be ignored by Barack Obama is shortsighted; she (and her husband) are far too valuable to the Democratic Party and to Obama's chances for success in the fall for her not to be involved in some way.

But exactly in what way? A TIME magazine report offers a few ideas.

The friends you make...

...are often judged by the company they keep. And John McCain is learning today that one of his friends has some dubious (past) company.

And now the GOP is blasting the FCC

If there was any doubt that Kevin Martin is taking policy vis-a-vis the media down a road that bothers many people...today's news probably should confirm it.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A journalist leaves the industry...

...to join the Obama campaign.

Yes, we should be able to do what we want with our professional lives. But the decision made by Linda Douglass reinforces two perceptions, in my opinion: Reporters are liberal/Democrats and the Obama campaign has had to deal with a much-too-kind press corps.

I think this was a poor choice.

An interesting question -- should faculty attend graduation?

The answer at one southern university is a bit more complicated than you might think. Here's why.

Retirement? Not for Bob

Great news for those of us who like Bob Schieffer -- he's not going anywhere!

Bush and NBC

The Bush administration's latest blast against the media seems misguided.

On one level, there appears to deceit evident, or planned. Television journalists, producers and editors make critical decisions about interview subjects on a daily basis; there is no reason for an interview with the president to be edited any differently.

On another level, the viewer could see the entire interview by accessing NBC News' Web site. Now, I agree with the contention made by the administration that few, if any, people are going to take the time to sit through a complete interview. But, it is important to remember that the information is available! NBC is not hiding the interview; it is not making a claim to authenticity that it cannot support; and it is allowing for people who want to gain more context.

New posts coming today

Was traveling back from a short academic conference yesterday. Will offer several posts later today :-)

Monday, May 19, 2008

Would Hillary Clinton be a more difficult general election candidate for John McCain?

She's been insisting that the answer is "yes." Now she might have some ammunition to support that contention. But I'm guessing you're going to be surprised by the person who supplied this news. No, he didn't tell it to her. He told John McCain.

Denver's television stations want nothing to be rocky...

...when the Democratic National Convention comes to town later this summer. Here's what they're doing to get ready for the "party."

The NewsHour...

...is suffering from its own tough economic times. This story provides a solid representation of the chronically difficult financial conditions that affect public television.

Here's an old story...

...a company merges and jobs are cut. This time, it involves a media company.

The fear of what will happen next...

...remains palpable in China. How could it not?

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The week that was

During this week, we saw...
1. In China, the power of Mother Nature and a government that responded appropriately to it;
2. In Myanmar, the lingering effects of Mother Nature and a government that remains unwilling or unable to respond appropriately to it;
3. The coalescing of Democratic leaders and superdelegates around a candidate;
4. A continuing rise in gas prices, and many poor explanations for it;
5. The first signs of the gloves coming off between Barack Obama and John McCain;
6. The Senate send a strong statement to the FCC that it ought to reconsider its priorities;
7. Indications of a protracted disagreement between the president of West Virginia University and the faculty stemming from a revoked MBA degree that was awarded to a long-time friend of the president; and,
8. Terrible weather conditions in parts of the United States.

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Senate sends a strong message...

...to the FCC. Will the agency listen? Should it?

Keeping the economic and news houses in order...

...often isn't an easy job. And we know which one of those houses will prevail in almost all cases.

Vietnamese journalists arrested

What did they do that angered the authorities? Apparently, their job.

The Dalai Lama hints...

...that he's not going to attend the Opening Ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics.

Keep in mind the political posturing between the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama continue, and there is more at stake here than his attendance at the Games. Being in the Olympic Stadium would be a sign of respect for and endorsement of the Olympics...and the country that is hosting them. And therein lies the rub: The Dalai Lama, on one hand, can provide a strong signal that the situation in Tibet is not as dangerous as the international community perceives it to be IF he is at the Opening Ceremonies. On the other hand, he is demanding to see political and other improvements before he will make that commitment to attend.

We still have about 75 days before the start of the Olympics, so there is time for this situation to work itself out. I maintain that an invitation that is sent ought to be accepted, provided that there is no increased tensions.

China earthquake, today

More signs of the openness the Chinese government is demonstrating following the terrible earthquake that hit the country on Monday.

The reader of this blog should continue reviewing the many news organizations that are covering this story. These media are telling strong stories.

The lessons John McCain can learn from...

...Hillary Clinton? Sounds like a Republican voter's worst nightmare. But here's one person's list. Where did the Clinton campaign, seemingly unstoppable at the end of 2007, fail in 2008? A series of answers are offered by The New Republic.

And here's another story suggesting that Barack Obama has some fence-mending to do, as he presses ahead with his presidential bid.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Uh, perhaps Obama isn't the only one with problems...

...when it comes to reaching a particular part of the electorate. It appears that Republicans might have one, as well, and it might be a tougher one to overcome.

A few leading Republicans discussed how the party must re-establish its legitimacy, in a conversation with Politico.

Leading Chinese officials continue...

...to use the media to push the message that everyone within the country must work at lightning speed to help the victims of this week's earthquake.

It will be interesting to see the short- and long-term effects this cooperation and openness with the media has on the future of the Chinese media. Now, however, seems to not be the appropriate time to discuss this issue.

And the most popular Web site in the U.S. is...

...oh, what the heck...just Google it to find the answer :-)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Anytime there is a perceived or real conflict of interest...

...the quality of news suffers. So, how will the owners of Cablevision respond to stories such as this one?

McCain -- his international perspective

I'm still working my way through this New York Times story -- it highlights the factors that influence the international views of John McCain.

The Senate appears close to...

...offering a rebuke of the FCC.

Obama's camp says it isn't worried...

...but maybe it ought to be. He was trounced in West Virginia last night; and while that defeat likely won't do much to slow down his nomination as the Democratic nominee, it could be indicative of a big problem in the fall.

As the Associated Press reports, Obama again failed to generate enthusaism from a particular set of the electorate -- white, low income, rural, older and without college degrees. The point is that Obama hasn't done well with these voters throughout the primary, and West Virginia was merely the latest example of that.

The New York Times adds that Mrs. Clinton overwhelming victory last night also will raise anew the fears that Obama isn't going to match up well with Sen. John McCain in critical swing states, such as Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Finally, Politico notes that exit polls from West Virginia tell a story that has been heard in many other states -- if Obama is the Democratic nominee, a sizable percentage of Hillary Clinton supporters say they will NOT vote for him in the general election.

China, day 3 (UPDATED)

I continue to be amazed at the two approaches taken by the governments of nations that have been hit recently by natural disasters.

The Myanmar junta has stonewalled at almost every turn, putting its people in grave danger. Meanwhile today brings more news that the Chinese government is doing all it can to help the victims of the earthquake.

Shame on the former; praise for the latter. And don't forget that the grief and the images of destruction are playing out on Chinese television and in other official state media in ways that previous natural disasters in the Communist world would not have been.

UPDATE: And perhaps just when you thought the news from Myanmar couldn't get any worse...read this.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Another way to examine how young people...

...are engaged in this year's political process. Check out this story.

I confess...I'm a bit envious

He...
1. Is a world famous rock star
2. Holds a Ph.D.
3. Has written a book about astronomy.

You could say Brian May will "Rock You". Or perhaps he can be called a "Champion". Either way, this "Queen" is quite a jack of all trades.

A good idea...or pandering?

A prominent American university is advertising for a "Professor of Conservative Thought and Policy."

I think this is a terrific plan. Where else but on America's college campuses is the belief that a free and robust exchange of ideas is critical to understanding, to growth, and to bettering the individual?

Consider those students who disagree with this still not hired professor -- they would be compelled to more critically consider the arguments they wanted to make, as they debated political policy. Consider at the same time that their argumentation and language skills would be enhanced as they made those arguments.

Those students who agree with the professor not only would gain an important ally, but they also would find their oral and writing skills enhanced, as they argued political policy with others.

Bravo, Colorado. This is a great move.

A late apology...

...is nevertheless an apology, presuming it is sincere. We'll presume this one is.

History repeating itself?

A former Reagan administration official suggests that any attempts by the FCC to impose any sort of new (or renewed) legislation on radio stations would be a mistake. He suggests doing so would be the equivalent of what happened when the Fairness Doctrine was first introduced.

China earthquake, day two

A series of reports -- all telling the same terible story -- of the earthquake in China.

The New York Times general report, a seperate report from the same paper on the children buried in the rubble of their school, a newspaper account detailing how two NPR reporters were in the earthquake area covering different stories, and accounts from state-run CCTV, are available for learning more about the situation.

UPDATE: Chinese officials estimate that at least 12,000 people are dead, and there might be 18,000 still missing.

You now have four choices for president...

...the latest entry? Bob Barr. Quite a character.

Monday, May 12, 2008

China quake -- new thread

YouTube already has a few individual video posts from people inside China. This one seems especially poignant. (There is a graphic language warning associated with this video.)

The Pentagon/military generals story...

...just won't go away. And with good reason: The use of retired military generals to carry the water of the politicians and the military was a poor decision.

7 Steps to Victory

This is a fantastic article -- it points up the necessary steps John McCain will have to take if he is to have any chance of beating Barack Obama in the fall.

Now this is progress!

Kudos to the Chinese government for floating an idea that makes perfect sense -- invite the Dalai Lama to the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics.

The Dalai's presence in the Olympic Stadium would go a long way to easing the tension that has developed over the past two months. Sure, there will be those critics who will accuse the Dalai of selling out. They would be wrong to make such an argument. To make peace one has to take the steps to achieve it.

The Chinese took their step with the potential invitation; the Dalai would take his by accepting it.

The Myanmar government is both cruel...

...and incompetent. This story seems to verify both.

McCain and Obama move ahead

No, the Democratic presidential race isn't over, but that hasn't stopped Mr. Obama and Mr. McCain from charting their courses for the 2008 general election.

A terrible day for and in China (UPDATE 2)

Having grown up in "Earthquake Country" (the Western U.S.), I'm well aware of how powerful earthquaken can be. The latest report indicates that perhaps 5,000 could have died in the China earthquake. (I will update this story at various times.)

Today's news from China is awful, but it does demonstrate that non-democratic governments can be pro-active in identifying natural disasters and seeking assistance in the recovery.

China, in other words, is posing an interesting research project in crisis communications. What it is doing, and what Myanmar is not, is going to be one of the telling stories of this year.

UPDATE 1: You also should consider linking to CCTV.com (English service) for additional details. There are relevant stories available.

UPDATE 2 -- The death toll is approaching 9,000. Horrible news.

Looks like Cablevision is the winner...

...of the Newsday sweepstakes. Now, the inevitable question -- is this good for localism? For journalism as a whole, for that matter?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

270towin.com

Here is a Website you can use for a vareity of purposes -- in your classrooms, with your friends and family, or just for fun.

I suggest using the "user-generated view" map; it will allow you to predict/change which candidate will win which states...and thus inch closer to the necessary 270 Electoral College votes needed to officially win the presidency.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Does Clinton need Obama? Does Obama need Clinton?

Two interesting perspectives about whether Barack Obama will/should select Hillary Clinton as his runningmate. One suggests that Clinton wants the second spot, for reasons that might surprise you. The other suggests that he might not have any other choice.

At first glance, this marriage of Obama and Clinton would seem to be nothing more than "politics making for strange bedfellows." And in reality it is. I doubt that after tearing up each other over the past few months that either really wants anything to do with the other. But her political survival (see the first link) could be tied to him, and the lingering doubts about his electabilty (see the second link) could be tied to her.

If this "ticket" is indeed punched, the logic likely goes something like this: "Hillary is a leader, someone who has always fought for what she believes in. She's never given up. She's never quit under pressure. She's someone that I want working with me to ensure that the change that is so needed in this country takes place."

He covers her financial debts, while she covers his voter deficiencies. And, yes, the irony would be that if Obama serves two terms as president...Mrs. Clinton would be in her late 60s and still electable as president. Unless of course the Republicans want to use the line that she'd be too old! (Is McCain?)

This seems to make too much sense...for her.

The reality is...

...that the Democratic presidential race is over. (Yes, this statement from me seems to contradict what I stated in the past few days about the media being very interested in seeing the marathon come to an end.)

I'm not attempting to trivialize the selections, but would anyone have been able -- with a straight face -- to suggest on Jan. 1 that the Democratic candidate was going to be Barack Obama and the Republican candidate was going to be John McCain?

For Obama, the answer might be "maybe." I say maybe because there was certainly concerns among some leading Democrats about how electable Sen. Clinton would have been in November. Moreover, he generated solid buzz (ugh, what an awful term) at the end of the year. But I maintain that a majority of media types would have named Mrs. Clinton as her party's nominee.

But McCain? No way. He was the man deeply in debt and seemingly deeply out of touch with his party, as 2007 wound down and the 2008 primaries and caucuses began. He began the calendar year by catching two large breaks -- Fred Thompson ran an awful campaign, and Rudy Giuliani ran a stupid one (by placing all his hope on a win in Florida). Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney split the conservative vote...and suddenly from seemingly nowhere came McCain.

The general election (literal and figurative) debates will focus on three overarching issues: the economy (a term I'm using to include the deficit, job growth, gas prices, environmental issues and universal health care); Iraq (which includes what America's role in the world ought to be); and experience. By the end of the summer, we will have forgotten about Rev. Jeremiah Wright, allegations of McCain's female friends, and the other "junk" that at times overshadowed the primary/caucus season. (Yes, perhaps I'm overly optimistic in suggesting that lingering controversies will not be played up by the media and the various political operatives working for both parties.)

Here are 10 questions that I would very much like to see asked in the upcoming months:

1. "Mr. McCain...why does your experience matter? In other words, how does it ensure that you will be a better president than Mr. Obama, and especially in times of crisis?"

2. "Mr. Obama...if we remove our troops from Iraq with the speed you suggest, can you guarantee the American people that the country will not become more destabilized and therefore in even more desperate need of fixing? Moreover, if it is obvious at some point that removing our troops would do more harm than good to Iraq, would you keep that campaign promise to bring our military men and women home?"

3. "Mr. McCain...the U.S. economy is a mess, and fair or not the current Republican in the White House is considering largely responsible for causing it. If recent Republican policies swelled the national deficit to the point at which it is now, then why should the American people feel comfortable asking another Republican to fix it?"

4. "Mr. Obama...you have never been a governor, you have never owned a business, you have little in the way of managerial experience, and your political record -- at least in comparison to Mr. McCain's -- is thin. So setting aside the rhetorical answer, why should Americans be confident in your ability to get the economic house in order?"

5. "Mr. McCain...for perhaps the last eight years, the United States has been a political nation divided. The legitimacy of the 2000 election, the controversial entrance of the U.S. military in Iraq and other factors have split the country almost in half. With all due respect, how can a man who has spent as much time in Washington as you have and a man who says the U.S. military must retain a presence in Iraq be able to present himself as a unifier, a healer, a break with the past?"

6. "Mr. Obama...Mr. McCain has proven over time that he not only 'talks the talk,' but also 'walks the walk.' He's not afraid to upset political constituencies, when he believes it is necessary to do so. Are you that kind of politician? Or are you simply a 'typical politician' who is concerned only with advancing the issues deemed important by your party?"

7. "Mr McCain...America's international image also has been tarnished because of what many countries believe is our unwillingness to help make the world an environmentally better place. How comfortable should Americans be in believing that you will be any different from President Bush? In other words are you a 'typical Republican' who puts economic interests ahead of environmental ones?"

8. "Mr. Obama...your political record suggests you are a liberal. That term has taken on a negative connotation in recent years, but I am using it to suggest that you believe that government should be involved in fixing problems. Will your efforts to lower gas prices, bring health care to the many who don't have it, and lower the deficit, among other things, by necessity include higher taxes for Americans who are already financially strapped and don't want to pay more of them? Moreover can you do what you intend to do without asking Americans to pay for it?"

9. "Mr. McCain...we use them every day, and in too many places they are in terrible shape. They are America's roads, bridges and other transportation infrastructure. How are you going to begin the process of fixing them? How will you pay for it?"

10. "Mr. Obama...same question to you. How do you intend to fix America's transportation infrastructure? How will you pay for it?"

Of course, if there are questions you'd like to add to this list...send them my way. I'm giving some serious thought to forwarding my questions (and other legitimate ones that others propose) to the candidates. I'm curious if I'd get any meaningful response.

News Corp. will not own Newsday

Rupert Murdoch withdraws his bid for another New York newspaper.

Myanmar (UPDATED)

To date, the military junta in the country has been able to hold off the free flow of information about the conditions that resulted from the cyclone. But how long can this last?

The power of technology suggests it can't be long. Consider that foreign journalists -- who when doing their jobs properly act as independent sources of information -- remain locked out of the country. So far, almost all efforts to bring in relief workers have been blunted by the military. These workers -- granted, more interested in helping than in advancing any political agenda -- also could be independent sources of information. Yet, even in the absence of these "people on the ground" reports continue to filter out about the very dangerous conditions within Myanmar.

Today's news indicating that the boxes containing food being handed out to the people have the names of military generals on them is both a sign of arrogance and desperation, in my opinion. (Note also that the link provided above has a Myanmar dateline; the reporter is in the country.)

It won't be long before this natural disaster becomes a political disaster...unless the leadership reforms itself. Quickly. And doing that might not be enough to hold off the anger that must exist within the people.

UPDATE: Saturday afternoon -- TIME magazine reports that the question of whether there needs to be a military invasion of Myanmar is being considered in certain circles.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Big, bad Russia?

As you read this story, consider that the imagery fits in perfectly with the plans of Russian president Dmitri Medvedev and prime minister Vladimir Putin. A Russia that projects strength and might to the world is what both men are after. Anyone fearing some sort of saber-rattling is missing the point.

In other words, this is all for show.

A proper response...

...to an improper editorial. Read more here.

If it's a "massive" job...

...then Vladimir Putin believes there is (perhaps only) one person who can handle it -- himself.

Maybe moving sweeps (once) is not such a good idea

Recently, Nielsen announced that the February 2009 sweeps book would be shifted to March, because of concerns associated with the digitial transition deadline of Feb. 17, 2009.

But at least one television executive thinks that Nielsen might have forgotten the very important event that takes place every March -- think Madness!

The U.N. suspends aid to Myanmar

On the surface, such a headline would draw world condemnation. Except this time what the international agency is doing appears to be both necessary and justified. That's because the Myanmar government/junta confiscated the relief supplies already sent to the cyclone-ravaged country.

And if you wanted evidence of just how bad the situation is there, consider this report from The New York Times.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Only 3 months to go!

If you are an Olympic Games enthusiast, as regular readers of this blog know I am...then you have only 3 months to go before the opening of the 2008 Beijing Games!

It is perhaps appropriate that today the Olympic Torch was literally on top of the world...or at least literally as high as it could go.

The Pentagon is getting into the news business

The goal is akin to what Voice of America's principal mission is -- promote an American viewpoint of and to the world.

Are Chinese migrant workers being abused in the lead-up to the 2008 Olympics?

Human Rights Watch has issued a report claiming that migrant workers in China (and especially Beijing) are subjected to abuse.

The report's introduction does note that the Chinese government is aware of this issue and has made improvements in some areas.

As you read the report, ask yourself the following questions:
1. Is the report's methodology sound? In other words, was this study conducted in such a way so as to eliminate the potential for bias?
2. Is the organization itself legitimate? In other words, is there an ingrained bias in Human Rights Watch?
3. Is the evidence presented in this report credible? Does it seem believable? How do you know?
4. Are the sources credible? Do they represent all sides of this controversial issue?

The five mistakes Hillary Clinton has made in her campaign

According to a TIME magazine columnist, that is.

The struggling economy is taking its toll on planning for...

...the Olympics. This article suggests news organizations are facing a didfficult decision -- how many people, if any, should be sent to China this summer to cover the Games?

Eight is (not) Enough...

...when it comes to the potential merger of XM and Sirius. What makes "eight" an important number in this potential union of the satellite companies? Here's the answer.

Blame it on...

...Rush Limbaugh? Selected Democrats say the close results from Tuesday's Indiana primary are likely warming the heart of Rush Limbaugh, who, these Democrats say, urged his supporters to deliver a "chaos" scenario.

Meanwhile, one ABC analyst believes that Mrs. Clinton is staying in the race for only one reason at this point.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

24 hour news is coming to New York

And it will have a powerful news organization behind it.

As you read this story, I encourage you to pay special attention to what will happen to the people already employed by WNBC. What is planned for that newsroom could become a test case for how local newsrooms of the future are shaped.

More calls for an FCC investigation...

...into the former-military-generals-touting-the-Bush-administration-line-about-the-Iraq-War story.

The appreciation that this administration has for the media is at an all-time high, wouldn't you agree!

China gears up... (UPDATED)

...and tenses up?

An interesting report from TIME magazine, highlighting how China is getting itself ready for the Olympics and the crush of visitors to the country. Sadly, in the world of today, that means preparing for some of those visitors to be troublemakers (or worse).

Meanwhile, here is a fascinating story about China and the Vatican. Cultural exchanges such as this are perfect at any time, but they seem to resonate more fully and have the potential to have a more lasting impact in years when special events -- such as the Olympics -- are taking place.

UPDATE: Posted late Wednesday -- A major academic convention devoted to anthropolgy appears to be head for cancellation. Where was the convention supposed to be held? You got it...China. The reason behind the likely postponement? The recent protests about Tibet. And as you examine the program (contained in a link from the original story), check out the number of Tibet-related issues.

If they wanted it to end yesterday...

...then the MSM really want it over now: It, of course, is the Democratic presidential contest.

The New York Times, USA Today, San Francisco Chronicle, and Politico are touting a similar message this morning -- Obama might very well have wrapped up the nomination last night, when he won North Carolina by a convincing margin.

We can presume for the moment that the campaign will press on. That likely will disappoint some (many?) in the MSM who already have moved on to the general election.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Do the media WANT the Democratic presidential race to end?

I've read a variety of media reports since the presidential primaries and caucuses began in January, and I've become convinced in the last month or six weeks that the media want the Democratic race to end. Now. And I don't know why.

Perhaps:
1. They don't like Mrs. Clinton (in other words, the memories of Bill Clinton's presidency still resonate);
2. They like Barack Obama;
3. They're tired of covering one primary or caucus after another where the messages change little but the locations change often;
4. The believe it is over (even though it isn't).

Do you find any of these suggestions sufficient? I certainly don't. Speaking personally, I've found this Democratic presidential marathon (let's not call it a race any longer) fascinating. I've seen more young people engaged in and talking about the political process than I can remember ever happening. I see a marathon involving two interesting, intelligent, dynamic people.

And for more evidence of at least the last point consider the various media reports from this morning that indicate that Mrs. Clinton is done unless she wins at least one of the states holding their primaries today. Where does this rhetorical nonsense come from?

Now before anyone starts accusing me of being a Clinton backer or on her payroll or being one of her campaign volunteers (undecided, nope and nope, in case you are wondering), remember that I am approaching these comments from a rather straightforward perspective: the longer this marathon lasts, the healthier our democracy will be.

There is no question that neither Mrs. Clinton nor Mr. Obama will have the requisite number of delegates needed to clinch the party's nomination. There also is little doubt that some compromise involving the Florida and Michigan delegations needs to be made. And there also is no doubt that the superdelegates are going to be essential in determining the party's nominee.

Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that a large number of those superdelegates have not committed to either candidate. Let's set aside why they've made that decision; speculation already is overabundant in media discourse these days. My point is this: if they've not endorsed either one, then why should any media organization be calling/hinting/desiring the marathon to end?

Famed "Middletown" faces an uncertain future

If you are familiar with the myriad "Middletown" studies, then you know of the city highlighted in this article. If not, read this report anyway; quite well, it tells the story of how middle America (not middle class America) is struggling mightily.

She could be arrested at any time...

...but she won't give up spreading a message that she believes needs to be read by many.

$3 million and 30 seconds

What do those figures mean? Well, if you want to advertise during the 2009 Super Bowl then you had better be ready to pony up some serious cash.

Katie in the morning!

You bet...that's what the public says it hopes happens if (when???) Katie Couric leaves the CBS Evening News desk.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Way to go, Don!

A man whom I admire very much is the founding dean of the School of Communication at Loyola University (Chicago). Way to go, Don Heider!!

Should universities purchase newspapers?

An intriguing question...and one that is argued very strongly in this editorial.

My initial reaction to this: Absolutely, this is an idea that warrants more discussion. The "value" that a daily, complete, investigative, well-sourced, articulate, and well-reasoned article can have on those people who read it is hard to quantify. Eliminate some of the pressures associated with the newspaper (and media, in general) industry faces today, and this idea seems to have even more relevance.

I'm willing to hear other ideas...pro and con.

When the chips are down...call on Bob?

One blog report suggests that CBS would be wise (and it would be!) to consider Bob Schieffer as the man who can rescue the downtrodden CBS Evening News.

Richard Butler's survival...

...in his own words.

Have the media been fair with Obama?

The underlying question to this article might be: Have the media been fair to Obama...for too long?

Wow, what a hockey game!

I normally don't get too caught up in one professional sports event. I've been blessed to have been able to cover many of them, and I've no way to know how many I've watched as a fan.

But last night (and into this morning!) I was treated to one of the most enjoyable hockey games I've ever seen. Game 6 of the Western Conference semi-final series between Dallas (which won the game and with it the series) and San Jose had everything a serious fan of the sport would want -- great goaltending; hard, clean hitting; drama; and perhaps most of all a non-controversial ending.

The game lasted into the 4th overtime. If you are a hockey fan, you know that made for a long game. If you're not, then here's all you need to know -- the game ended around 2:30 a.m. Eastern time.

I'm too old to be staying up that late! But it was worth it. Of course, tonight...hey, I'm going to bed early.

Was it a "propaganda campaign"?

I'm inclined to say "yes," but regardless of the answer...I think you'll find it interesting that a group of Congressmen is urging an investigation into the former military generals (and others) who were intentionally promoting the Bush administration line about the war in Iraq.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

And now for something completely different

One of my favorite songs...and the music video that accompanies it.

As plans move forward for dialogue...

...between the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama, state-run Chinese media continue their negative characterizations of the Dalai Lama.

A well-choreographed transition of power...

...takes place in Moscow at mid-week. Here's a report from The Moscow Times.

If you've seen TIME magazine's 100 Most Influential People, then you know that Vladimir Putin is on the list.

It will be interesting to see how the American media frame the soon-to-be ex-President and soon-to-be Prime Minister Putin. One can expect that he'll be viewed as a puppeteer, someone telling President-elect Dmitri Medvedev how and what to do. One also can expect that he'll continue to be viewed as a thorn in America's side, someone who cares about recreating a powerful Russia.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Sen. Brownback and China, day two

I ran a Google search with the names "Brownback" and "China," in an effort to see how this story trickled through the MSM.

You'll recall yesterday that Sen. Brownback announced that he had information that China was planning to monitor and filter the Internet usage of people who visited the country during the upcoming Summer Olympics.

I find it interesting today that the story does not appear to have the "wow" factor I thought it might. My search turned up reports appearing on FOX News, the Huffington Post, Kansas City Star, Boston Herald, Associated Press, and a host of blogs.

I thought this story would have more media traction because it seems anything that smacks of China bashing these days makes it into the MSM. (And I'll leave it to you to determine which of those recent bashing stories deserved to be "news.") The image that the media have created about China this spring is one filled with suggestions that China will stop at nothing to smother its opponents and is doing nothing more than providing lip service to the ideals of the Olympic Games.

Yes, this blog has been critical of the Chinese government for its handling of the Tibet situation. Moreover, I've indicated a tacit support for those groups that are protesting the Olympic Torch, and by doing so injecting politics into sports.

I'm not dismissing Brownback's charges; they might very well be true. But I would appreciate the MSM doing some additional analysis before providing additional details. By the way, I checked the English-language site of state-run CCTV -- no mention of Brownback.

Interesting changes at...

...the Associated Press. Do you, as I do, find the timing of this decision a bit odd? We're in the middle of a contested political election; consistency in leadership would appear to be critical right now.

A journalist is freed from...

...Guantanamo. Here are the details.

An example of the power of blogging

And for one U.S. Senate candidate, the blog posts are no laughing matter.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

The academic year (almost) gone by

Likely by Friday, I will wrap up the grading of my students' final projects or exams, and the 2007-08 academic year will come to an end. It's been quite a year for some of my students. In no particular order...

1. One was chosen to be a summer intern at FOX News Channel;
2. A group reported live for 2:45 (that's 2 hours, 45 minutes) when Chelsea Clinton visited the Point Park campus;
3. 4 spent a semester in London;
4. 1 was chosen to attend both the Democratic and Republican national conventions, where she will learn about the media and political industries in the best way possible;
5. A number of them became political reporters (some by choice, some because I made them do that for a day or so!) as the Pennsylvania primary and the 2008 political season dominated the headlines;
6. One remains in the running for an on-air position in Pittsburgh;
7. One was named a communications intern for the Pittsburgh mayor's office;
8. Graduation and the next step in their lives await more than a dozen.

This is not an exhaustive list, but you get the idea: I had the opportunity to share special moments with many of my students during the academic year. And now, those experiences begin to place themselves into my ever-expanding bank of teaching memories.

I always find that I spend some portion of this weekend that immediately follows exams and grading, and which includes the Point Park graduation, reflecting upon my "kids," some of whom I'll never see again. Certainly at graduation, I'll watch one group of my students walk across the stage, see them smile that big smile, and walk off confidently (I hope) with diploma in hand into whatever comes next for them.

But I also find that this weekend is one that I want those students to remember. If I could give them one more lesson (one more teaching moment, as I like to call it), then I'd remind them of something that I heard once at a graduation that resonated with me: Stop...and look around. Take a good look at your friends. Take a good look at your classmates. Find some way to burn the images of their faces into your memory bank. Remember how at that moment they are smiling. Remember how at that moment they might be crying. But remember, because your group of fellow graduates will never be together again. The four (or more) years you shared sweating over assignments, exams, internships, jobs, dates, relationships, crammed schedules, late night pizza runs, etc. are over. Yet the memories of those experiences are not. Nor will they ever be, if you take the time to make them important.

Melancholy Moretti? Perhaps. But I guess this is my way of acknowledging that I'm letting go of my "kids." And you bet it makes me appreciate the 9- and 4-year-old boys that I have at home. They're my real kids, and they're growing up fast!

The aftermath of the London bombings

The video you can access from this link is not as graphic as you might think. In fact, you'll need the reporter's narration to get the full sense of what was going on in London on that fateful morning almost three years ago.

Is China planning to censor Internet access?

The answer, according to one U.S. senator, is "yes."

Sen. Sam Brownback alleges that China is ordering hotels to monitor Internet usage by their guests and to filter certain sites, in the run-up to and then during the Olympic Games.

It appears that FOX News and Politico.com (which is running an AP version of the story) are the first mainstream media outlets reporting Brownback's charge. I've checked CNN, MSNBC, the Washington Post, and the Washington Times and found no similar report.

The placement of Brownback's claims on FOX and Politico is interesting. FOX as of now (3:40 p.m. Eastern) is placing the story at the top of its page; it is, in other words, THE story on the Web site. I don't have access to cable television, so I don't know if FOX News also is playing it up to be as big as the Website is.

Meanwhile, Politico.com is more reserved. The link to Brownback's allegations is third in its list of reports relating to Congress; in other words, if you're not looking for it, you might miss it.

I'll be interested to see tonight and tomorrow how this story plays out on the mainstream media. And, come to think of it, a few bloggers and other non-MSM sites undoubtedly will have something to say about this story as well.

Of course, these placements will change over the next few hours

There are plenty of upset media groups these days

The reason? The FCC. But perhaps why they're upset will surprise you.

It might not be much of a response...

...but at least NBC's Brian Williams has offered some kind of response to the "former generals masquerading as independent analysts while being mouthpieces for the Pentagon" story that appeared in the New York Times.

13 places where...

...you might be able to get away with murder (especially if the person you kill is a journalist).

Jim Lehrer is getting better...

...but he's not back at work yet.

Who needs the nostalgic (supposedly) good old days?

Not these four journalists. After reading this, you might agree with them. (And, yes, for what it's worth, I do.)

A "sweep"-ing decision by Nielsen

And likely a wise one. The "ratings company" has moved the traditional February sweeps month to March, for 2009. The potential confusion associated with the digital transition is the reason why.